Japan vs Costa Rica predictions: Samurai Blue to take further last-16 step
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James Mason
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Hajime Moriyasu masterminded a fantastic come-from-behind win over Germany but may find things easier against Costa Rica
Hajime Moriyasu masterminded a fantastic come-from-behind win over Germany but may find things easier against Costa Rica

- Japan's 2-1 win over Germany was their first ever success against Die Mannschaft 
- Samurai Blue are unbeaten in their five previous meetings with Costa Rica 
- Los Ticos have failed to score in four of their last five World Cup matches 
- Recommended bet: Japan to win and over 2.5 goals

Japan produced a brilliant performance to defeat Germany in their opening Group E encounter and they will be hoping to back that display up with a victory against Costa Rica at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan on Sunday.

Los Ticos were, to say the least, abject in their 7-0 thumping at the hands of Spain and defeat in their second outing, coupled with a win or a draw for La Roja against Germany, would confirm their early exit from the tournament.

A place in the last 16 is within grasp for the Samurai Blue, who would secure their place in the knockout stages if they triumph on Sunday and Germany are unable to get the better of Spain.

Team news

Right-back Hiroki Sakai came off injured during the win over Germany and subsequently missed training on Thursday, leaving him as a big doubt for the contest. 

Should he fail to shake off the problem, Takehiro Tomiyasu will likely take his place in Japan's starting XI.

Costa Rica's dismal performance in defeat to Spain could see head coach Luis Fernando Suarez make some alterations to his side, with the likes of Kendall Watson, captain Bryan Ruiz and Alvaro Zamora all pushing for starts.

The stats

Luis Fernando Suarez has his work cut to prevent an early exit for Costa Rica
Luis Fernando Suarez has his work cut to prevent an early exit for Costa Rica

Japan are making their seventh World Cup appearance, having debuted in 1998, and they have managed to qualify from the group on three previous occasions — in 2002, 2010 and 2018.

The Samurai Blue recorded their first victory over Germany at the fifth attempt, having drawn two and lost two of the previous four meetings, and they boast a fantastic record over Costa Rica.

Hajime Moriyasu's troops are unbeaten in their five previous encounters with Los Tricos — winning four and drawing one — although these have all been friendlies and Sunday's meeting will be the first competitive clash.

This is Costa Rica's sixth appearance at the major tournament and they have a mixed record, having reached the last 16 on their debut in 1990 before failing to make it out of their group in 2002 and 2006.

A brilliant run to the quarter-finals came about in 2014 — their best ever World Cup performance — but they suffered an early exit in Russia four years ago and a similar fate looks like it will be coming their way in Qatar.

The 7-0 defeat to Spain was Costa Rica's biggest defeat at a World Cup and they were outclassed in every department, as they managed just 241 passes compared to the 1,043 of their opponents while they failed to muster a single shot at goal.

Suarez's side only had four touches in Spain's area — two in each half — and it will take a big improvement for them to overcome a Japan side brimming with confidence after their win over Germany.

Prediction

Japan will know just how big that opening win over Germany was and they will be eager not to let this fantastic opportunity to reach the last-16 stage slip through their hands.

The Samurai Blue showed they are capable of mixing it with the biggest nations around and they should have far too much quality in their side for a Costa Rican side that are short in every area.

Los Tricos were woeful at the back and bereft of creativity in midfield and attack, all of which culminated in a sorry display and a heavy defeat against Spain.

This looks like a great opportunity for Japan to rack up a big score and a win with over 2.5 goals in the match, available at 5/4 with LiveScore Bet, is worth considering, especially given the fact this bet has landed in all four of the Samurai Blues' victories over Costa Rica.

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